LPD-17 San Antonio Class: The USA’s New Amphibious Ships
January 11/22: LPD 29 Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division launched the amphibious transport dock Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) being built for the US Navy. Richard M. McCool Jr., the 13th LPD in the San Antonio class of amphibious assault force ships, will support US amphibious assault, special operations and expeditionary warfare missions through the first half of the 21st century.
LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.
While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.
LPD-17 San Antonio Class: Capabilities and Features
Roles and Innovations
Self-Defense & Survivability: Options & Issues
LPD-17 San Antonio Class: Program, Budgets & Timelines
Flight II: What’s Next
LPD-17 Program: Performance Problems
The Vicious Cycle
LPD-17 San Antonio Class: Contracts & Key Events (1996-Present)
FY 2015 – 2022
FY 2007 – 2008
FY 2005 – 2006
FY 2004 and Earlier
Additional Readings & Sources
LPD-17 Class Ship Background
Background: LPD-17 Ancillaries & Issues
News and Views
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